ATLANTA (Associated Press) — Todd and Julie Chrisley, stars of the reality TV show “Chrisley Knows Beast” were convicted Tuesday in Atlanta on federal charges. Including bank fraud and tax evasion.
The Chrisley family was initially charged in August 2019 and a new indictment was filed in February of this year. Their trial began three weeks ago, and a jury on Tuesday found them guilty of conspiring to defraud community banks from more than $30 million in fraudulent loans, according to the Atlanta-based U.S. Attorney Ryan Buchanan’s office. They were also convicted of conspiracy to defraud the IRS and tax evasion, and Julie Chrisley was found guilty of fraud and obstruction of justice.
Bruce Morris, Todd Chrisley’s attorney, said he was disappointed with the ruling and expects to appeal.
Prosecutors alleged that the Chrisley family submitted false documents to banks when applying for loans. They said Julie Chrisley also submitted a fake credit report and fake bank statements when trying to rent a house in California.
The plaintiffs said they used a company they controlled to hide income to prevent the IRS from collecting unpaid taxes owed by Todd Chrisley.
After their conviction, US District Judge Eleanor Ross allowed Chrisley’s family to remain free on bail. But it has placed them under on-site surveillance and home confinement, which means they can only leave the house for certain reasons, including work, medical appointments and court appearances. They must also alert probation officers of any spending of more than $1,000, according to the order entered on Tuesday.
The US Attorney’s office in Atlanta said Peter Tarantino, the accountant the couple employed, was convicted of conspiracy to defraud the United States and knowingly file false tax returns. He is also still free to bond.
Sentencing for the three is scheduled for October 6.
Chrisley Knows Best follows the upbeat Chrisley family. The series has just been renewed by USA for a tenth season, while the spin-off “Growing Up Chrisley,” featuring Chrisley’s children Chase and Savannah who live in Los Angeles, has been renewed by E! For a fourth season.
The trial began in mid-May, just days after E! She announced that she is moving forward with a new dating series, “Love Limo”, hosted by Todd Chrisley.
“As today’s result shows, when you lie, cheat and steal, justice is blind to your fame, fortune and position,” said Special Agent Kerry Farley, FBI Atlanta chief, in a news release. “In the end, when that is motivated by greed, the guilty verdict on all charges against these three defendants proves once again that financial crimes do not pay for them.”
Prosecutors said that before the Chrisley became reality TV stars, they and a former business partner submitted false documents to banks in the Atlanta area to obtain millions of dollars in fraudulent loans. They said they spent lavishly on luxury cars, luxury clothing, real estate and travel and used new fraudulent loans to pay off old ones. Prosecutors said Todd Chrisley then filed for bankruptcy, having walked away with more than $20 million in loans.
Prosecutors said that while her husband was in bankruptcy proceedings, Julie Chrisley created fraudulent financial documents to rent a house in Los Angeles. Once they got home, they failed to pay the rent and the landlord filed an eviction lawsuit.
While Todd Chrisley filed for bankruptcy, the Chrisley family began appearing on their reality show. It was recorded in the Atlanta area at first and then in Nashville. Prosecutors said they made millions from the show and conspired with Tarantino to defraud the IRS.
Prosecutors said they ran an opposing firm that collected their income from the show and other ventures and kept the companies’ bank accounts in Julie Chrisley’s name to avoid collecting half a million dollars in back taxes that Todd Chrisley owed. When the IRS requested information on the bank accounts, they transferred ownership to Todd Chrisley’s mother in an attempt to hide his income from the tax authorities, according to authorities.
Prosecutors said the couple failed to file tax returns or pay taxes for several years, despite Todd Chrisley claiming on a radio show that he paid between $750,000 and $1 million annually in federal income taxes.
Prosecutors said Tarantino submitted false tax returns to the company he was loaned to, falsely saying that it made no money or made any distributions in 2015 and 2016.
Prosecutors said Julie Chrisley submitted a false document in response to a grand jury subpoena to make it appear as if the Chrisley family had not lied to the bank when they transferred ownership of the loan company to her mother-in-law.